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Sustainable Farming in Chile – Single Vineyard Carignan from Oveja Negra

oveja logoPeople who grow wine grapes, whether they sell the grapes to other producers or make the wine themselves, think of themselves as farmers.  That’s what they are, and most great winemakers will tell you that great wine is really made in the fields.  Some go so far as to characterize their responsibility as winemakers as to not screw up what nature provided.  They have a connection with the land, they understand their soil and climate, and most of all their responsibility to maintain it.  In the past few decades that has gained ever increasing significance in the wine world.

Limited use of chemicals, conservation of water, fully organic farming and biodynamics are all common today.  There are various degrees depending on the individual, but they all speak to maintaining the land.  In Chile, one of the stars of New World wine, sustainable farming is a common theme, and not only by choice.  Limited rainfall drives the necessity to naturally manage water.  The holistic approach to sustainability also involves limited intervention in the vineyards, strategies to limit erosion, and also extends to theoveja vineyard winery’s responsibility to their employees and the community.   It is all about making the business sustainable over the long term.  That means being able to make a profit as well.  They are certainly stewards, and environmentally as well as socially responsible ones.  However they are still in business, and they pursue making the best wines they possibly can.  That’s a very good thing for all of us.

Here we’ll take a quick look at one winery in Chile which embraces sustainable farming, and makes excellent wines.  That is Oveja Negra.

Oveja Negra (which translates as ‘Black Sheep’) makes quality driven wine from hand harvested fruit sourced from their vineyards in the Maule and Colchagua Valleys.  Their name is a testament to their philosophy, which is to follow their individuality.  They make a series of Reserva wines, as well as a line of Single Vineyard bottles.  There is a high end blend made from the best varietal barrels, as well as a GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre) made in the style of the Southern Rhone Valley.  The reserve and single vineyard offerings span the grapes you would expect, including French varietals and the traditional Carmenere.  We have a single vineyard wine in house to taste.  Let’s get to it:

Wine:    2013 Carignan Single Vineyard

Winery Location:   Maule Valley, Chile

Tasted By:    Neil & Cheri                     Date:   July 2017 

Tasting Notesthis wine is made from grapes from Blocks 1, 2 and 3 of the Cauquenes Vineyard.  It is 100% Carignan.  Thirty days of skin contact helped extraction, and the wine was aged for 18 months in French oak.  A dark, ruby red, the IMG_1167wine has a nose of black raspberry and cherry, with oak and spice.  The palate is rich, almost full bodied and quite lively, with brisk acid balancing everything out quite well.  We detected a hint of caramel lurking on the palate.  The tannins are firm, but well integrated and the wine drinks fabulously right now.  This is delicious, and it only gets better after being open an hour or two.

Price Point –    About $18, and a Value List wine there.

Would We Buy It?    we would, certainly.  This is a fruit driven wine of high quality at a great price.

Chile is one of those regions that never seems to disappoint you from a value perspective.  This is yet another example.

A votre santé!


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